2016 Boxing Day Tips

Loyalty Points and Rewards Can No Longer Expire in Ontario

Loyalty Points and Rewards Can No Longer Expire in Ontario

By Simon Hung

December 9, 2016

Shoppers in Ontario can now have some peace of mind when collecting loyalty points, as the Protecting Rewards Points Act went into effect on December 5, which means points and rewards earned through loyalty programs cannot expire.

Air Miles recently reversed their decision to implement a rewards expiration and this act is largely credited with their change of plans, as it would have meant Air Miles would be operating against Ontario law.

This new law encompasses all loyalty programs that operate in Ontario, including Aeroplan, Air Miles, PC Plus, SCENE, Shoppers Optimum, Starbucks Rewards and other programs. If a loyalty program had previously set an expiration date on points or rewards that you've earned, this act invalidates that clause.

All loyalty programs, including Air Miles, can no longer expire rewards in Ontario.

The act can also be applied retroactively on loyalty points that expired on or after October 1, 2016 -- in these cases, the points will go back into your account.

There is one exception -- if there is a second reason, it is still possible for your points to expire. For example, if your agreement states that you must earn or redeem points within two years and you do not, your points could expire because of the combination of time passing and inactivity.

The new law is set to go into full effect in 2017. Although it is effective as of December 5, retailers will have until 2017 to modify their policies and comply with the new law. Until then, the Government of Ontario suggests reviewing your statements regularly to keep track of your points.

Click here to view the full details of the Protecting Rewards Points Act from the Government of Ontario website and let us know how you feel about this new law in the comments.

Boxing Day 2016 Predictions: What to Expect and What to Buy

Boxing Day 2016 Predictions: What to Expect and What to Buy

By Simon Hung

December 8, 2016

Nobody likes Mondays, but we'll make an exception on Monday, December 26, because Canada's biggest shopping day is almost here -- Boxing Day.

Last month, we put together a list of Black Friday predictions and while we were right on some predictions and wrong on others, we're taking some of the things we saw during Black Friday and applying them to a new set of RFD Bold Predictions™ for Boxing Day.

We still haven't mastered the art of fortune telling and our Magic 8 Ball is hit-or-miss, but take a look below to read some of the things we expect to see during the biggest shopping day of the year.

General Predictions

  • Doorcrashers -- if you’re willing to brave the crowds, in-store-only doorcrashers will likely be available at many major stores and a great way to snag the best deals, but quantities are usually extremely limited
  • Early birds -- Best Buy will likely hold another “VIP Pre-Sale” where you can buy some items from their Boxing Day sale early. We like the concept but aren’t too fond of the name, because nobody is a VIP when everybody is a VIP
  • Flyers -- you can expect to see a flood of Boxing Day flyers after the first major store releases theirs. We don’t know who it is and when it’ll be, but competitors are usually quick to release flyers after the first shoe drops. Whatever the case, we’ll have them here on RedFlagDeals
If you're willing to wake up early, some of the best deals are in-store-only doorcrashers.
  • The queue -- it’s become a holiday tradition at this point that brings the RFD community together, but Best Buy will have an online queue once their sale begins where you’ll have to angrily wait in a virtual line before spending your money
  • Worse deals? -- Boxing Day generally isn’t celebrated in the US, which means most Canadian stores may not feel the need to offer comparable deals to US stores. We hope we’re wrong and it means retailers will want to offer better deals, but we’ll have to wait and see

Cell Phones

  • Android -- many popular Android phones from Samsung, LG and even the new Pixel saw discounts or gift card bonuses with a two-year contract during Black Friday, so expect to see them on sale again
  • iOS -- all iPhones (including the 7) had some discounts over Black Friday with a two-year contract. We expect similar sales, with the iPhone SE and 6s offering the steepest savings
  • Windows -- if you happen to use Windows 10 Mobile, the Microsoft Store will likely have a sale or include a bonus with the purchase of select Lumia devices

Computers and Tablets

  • Apple products -- we saw very minimal savings on Apple products during Black Friday and it wouldn’t shock us to see the same trend on Boxing Day. You’ll probably find sales on some older generation products, but probably only up to 15% off
  • Microsoft Surface -- Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book both received discounts during Black Friday from a number of stores and they'll likely go on sale again on Boxing Day
Microsoft's Surface tablets will likely see discounts on Boxing Day.
  • Windows laptops -- there will be a plethora of laptops on sale from various retailers, but you can expect to find entry-level models for as little as $200.00, mid-range models for $500.00-$700.00, while laptops with premium add-ons like SSD storage or touchscreens will be $700.00 and up

Home and Appliances

  • Christmas décor -- if you’re the type who likes to shop early (like 364 days early), Christmas décor will be on sale everywhere
  • Major appliances -- there will be sales on standalone major appliances, but you’ll find the most savings if you bundle multiple appliances from specific brands
  • Small appliances -- high-end small appliances from Breville, KitchenAid and other premium brands will likely see big discounts, including the popular Breville Barista Espresso Machine and KitchenAid Stand Mixers

Home Audio and Entertainment

  • Apple Music -- we didn’t see a price cut for Apple Music during Black Friday, but we may see the reported 20% price cut that Apple is “seriously considering”
  • Bluetooth speakers -- we saw a number of Bluetooth speakers go on sale during Black Friday, including popular models like the UE BOOM 2 and Bose SoundLink Mini II, so anyone looking for Bluetooth speakers should wait until Boxing Day
  • Physical media -- many DVD and Blu-ray sets will be on sale at a number of stores, including recent releases, for those who prefer physical media
  • Wired headphones -- Sennheiser HD 598 Cs headphones went on sale during Black Friday and while many RFDers were pleased with the sale, others had hoped to see the open-backed Sennheiser 598 SE on sale instead and there is a chance we’ll see them for around $100.00 on Boxing Day

Peripherals and Accessories

  • Cameras -- GoPro HERO Session bundles are a common sight for sales recently and there’s a good chance that they’ll be on sale again on Boxing Day
  • Peripherals -- many peripherals including the $199.99 (!) Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum mouse went on sale during Black Friday, so look for premium gaming accessories like mechanical keyboards, surround sound headsets and gaming mice on Boxing Day
Gaming peripherals like this $200.00 Logitech G900 mouse are likely to go on sale.
  • Storage -- we’ll likely see discounts on both internal and external computer storage if you need more space to store your selfie collection. Specifically, look for high-capacity external hard drives and internal SSDs to go on sale

Televisions

  • 4K televisions -- with higher demand and more 4K content available, 4K televisions should be a popular item on Boxing Day and expect to see major price cuts on a number of major brands
  • HD televisions -- since 4K televisions have grown in popularity, 1080p televisions should receive steeper discounts than normal on Boxing Day
  • OLED televisions -- one of the most popular threads during Black Friday revolved around OLED televisions and while the prices are tough to swallow, if you’re looking for a television with incredible colour and contrast, be on the lookout for more sales on Boxing Day

Toys

  • Drones -- DJI Phantom 3 and some Phantom 4 drones are likely to go on sale, along with a number of more budget-friendly drones from Parrot and other brands
  • Hatchimals -- the Hatchimals craze is real and some stores may receive stock and even put them on sale once demand diminishes after Christmas
  • LEGO -- you can usually save 20% on LEGO sets at stores like Toys R Us and it wouldn’t shock us to see the same sale. If we’re lucky, the savings might be even more on Boxing Day and not exclude more popular LEGO collections
  • Star Wars -- by Boxing Day, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be in theatres and we’ll probably see discounts on a wide range of Star Wars toys so stores can take full advantage and cash in on the hype

Video Games

  • Microsoft -- the standalone Xbox One S console went as low as $299.00 during Black Friday and we’ll likely see a similar deal on Boxing Day, with bundles probably getting savings of $50.00. The Microsoft Store has a popular promotion where they include an additional Microsoft Store promo code and free game, which we hope to see again
  • Nintendo -- barring a surprise announcement, we don’t expect another special edition 3DS to release on Boxing Day. There’s a chance stock may spring up for the limited-edition handheld or the popular Mini NES Classic Edition, but otherwise look for sales on the standard Nintendo gaming hardware if stock is available
  • Sony -- we’ve seen the slim PS4 go as low as $329.99 recently and there’s a chance it may dip even lower, but we’re more likely to see some bonuses like free games or PlayStation Plus subscriptions. We saw no sales on the new PS4 Pro during Black Friday and chances are slim that we’ll see any discounts on Sony’s latest flagship until 2017
  • Steam -- Steam has historically held a Holiday/Winter sale over the Christmas break, so expect to see another one this year

Wearables

  • Apple Watch -- we didn’t see any Apple Watch sales aside from Apple themselves on Black Friday. We don’t expect the Apple Store to hold a Boxing Day sale, but we’re hoping to see at least some discounts on the Apple Watch, even though it seems unlikely
There were barely any Apple Watch sales on Black Friday, but we hope that changes on Boxing Day..
  • Fitbit -- Fitbit fitness trackers went on sale at multiple stores during Black Friday (including some of their new products) and we expect the same thing on Boxing Day
  • Pebble -- Pebble was recently acquired by Fitbit, who intends to shut down Pebble operations. While this does mean Pebble products will likely get discounts, it is somewhat of a gamble to purchase them as product support will be limited

What are you looking to buy on Boxing Day? Will you brave the weather and shop in-stores or online? Leave a comment with your thoughts and stay tuned to RedFlagDeals for the latest in Boxing Day news, flyers, tips and more as we inch closer to the biggest shopping day of the year!

Great Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Coworkers

Great Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Coworkers

By Kate Musgrove

November 27, 2016

It’s coming up on that time of year -- you’re buying presents for your very nearest and dearest family and friends… and that one weird guy at the office. For reasons we can’t totally understand, offices often hold a random draw gift exchange which means that in addition to buying gifts for the people you love, you’re also buying a gift for someone you don’t know -- or worse -- someone you know but you don’t like! Here are a few Secret Santa shopping tips to help you out:

Boss: buying presents for your boss can be awkward. If you give an extravagant gift you may look like you are currying favour. Pick something small but meaningful instead -- a framed photo from a work event, or some homemade sweets to share.

Complete Stranger: keep an eye on their desk for clues. For example, if they are never far from a cup of coffee, you could do something like a mug, a coffee shop gift certificate or even some gourmet coffee beans. If their desk is covered with photos of their kids, you might give them a board game they can play as a family. Now, investigating someone's desk or habits isn't foolproof -- just last week I gave someone a Starbucks card only to realize that I kept seeing them with cups from Starbucks because someone else had recently given them a Starbucks card that they were unenthusiastically drinking their way through. (Because we both work at RFD, though, I cheerfully told him that he should feel free to regift it!)

Office Nemesis: a forced gift exchange is a great time to kill with kindness -- even though the temptation to give them a Dating for Dummies book or an introductory Weight Watchers membership may be there, a thoughtful holiday gift could go a long way to bridging this gap. You might consider asking someone who knows them well what their hobbies are or what activities they enjoy.

Intern: typically, interns aren’t well-paid. This is definitely the time to skip a gag gift and give something genuinely useful, like a gift card for a store you’re sure they’ll like or a pair of movie passes.

Do you have an office gift exchange? If you do, are you a cheerful participant, or would you rather skip it?